The Turtle

The Emperor of China sent ambassadors to a hermit living in the northern mountains. They were to invite him to become Prime Minister of the Kingdom. 

After many days of travel the ambassadors arrived. The hermitage was empty! But nearby in the middle of a river was a half-naked man, seated on a rock, fishing with a line. Could this be the man the Emperor thought so highly of? Enquires at the village proved it was. So they returned to the river bank and, as respectfully as they could, attempted to attract the fisherman’s attention. 

The hermit waded through the river and stood before the messengers barefoot, arms akimbo.

“What is it you want?” 

“Honoured sir. His Majesty the Emperor of China, having heard of your wisdom and your holiness has sent us with these gifts. He invites you to accept the post of Prime Minister of the Realm.” 

“Prime Minister of the Realm?” 

“Yes, respected Sir.” 


“Yes, respected sir.” 

“Is His Majesty out of his mind?” said the hermit as he roared with uncontrollable laughter to the discomfiture of the ambassadors. 

When he was able to control himself, the hermit said, “Tell me - is it true that mounted over the main altar of the Emperor’s chapel is a stuffed turtle whose shell is encrusted with sparkling diamonds?” 

“It is, venerable sir.” 

“And is it true that once a day the Emperor and his household gather to do homage to this diamond-decorated turtle?” 

“It is, sir.” 

“Now take this turtle here, wagging his tail in the muck. Do you think this little fellow would change places with the turtle in the palace?” 

“No, he would not.” 

“Then go tell the Emperor that neither would I. For no one can be alive on a pedestal.”

from the book "Song Of The Bird" by Anthony de Mello truth, OdiliaCarmen